DETAIL: Fred FISHER 'Tilt' 2005, MDF synthetic polymer paint
Bonita ELY | Bonsai landscape

ELY, Bonita
Australia 1946
UK, Europe, North Africa, USA 1970-75; Europe, USA 1981-82
Bonsai landscape 2003
printed and folded cardboard
individual elements 22.5 (h) cm
installed (approx.) 22.5 (h) x 800.0 (w) x 300.0 (d) cm
Courtesy of Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne
VIEW: Artist's Statement |

Folded and glued like free-standing ‘point of a sale’ advertisements, hundreds of crisp, white cardboard cut-outs make up the floor installation Bonsai landscape. The objects are precisely placed so they turn, robot-like, in strictly controlled conformity to each other. From one particular viewpoint the viewer sees a dense, miniature forest of repetitive, tree-like imagery; from the opposite view the folds create an intricate panorama of cloned geometry that transforms and shifts like a tonal animation as the viewer moves around the ensemble.

There are three protagonists. Scattered throughout a forest of bonsai trees are images of an inscrutable rock in dialogue with a fire hydrant.

Together the components inscribe a shape on the gallery floor, reminiscent of the monoculture of commercial forestry, configured to map the shape of the 2003 bushfires in and around Canberra.

The bonsai image, nature fictionalised, is derived from a photograph of a grove of trees I noticed growing along a gully on a hillside in Utah, in the United States. The fire hydrant and rock are someone’s valiant attempt at ‘urban landscaping’ in a vast, desert-like car park nearby.

Together these images suggest that, like Leonardo da Vinci’s stains on a wall, meaning or narrative can be ascribed to anything our imaginations care to interpret. They remind us that nature is an economic unit, a throwaway consumable. It is also culturalised, destructive, exoticised and metaphysical. It is a biological system that we inhabit as deluded animals, human frailty ‘in control’.

Image: Detail
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